feminism, writing

Feminist Feelings: Body Positivity

I write my best work in the wee hours of the morning, which doesn’t bode well for my time in sixth form, but you have to suffer for your hobbies.

I’ve been reading ‘Girl Up’ by Laura Bates (which is an excellent feminist work, I really recommend it. I particularly enjoyed the dancing vaginas on the inside covers that I kept not-so-accidentally showing to the people around me as I read it on the train home today), which has led me to reflect on my own short experience with feminism.

There are a lot of facets to feminism – #FreeTheNipple, equal pay, the quest for the demise of ‘manliness’ (what does manliness even mean) – it’s diverse, and massively, monstrously huge. Such humongous movements like feminism always have this large volume of things they work towards, and the way they all link into one another is actually pretty amazing.

Something that I realised whilst reading ‘Girl Up’ was that body positivity in girls and guys alike is incredibly important. Think of your favourite television show/book/film/celebrity. Multiply it by one hundred thousand. That’s how important body positivity is.

In a study by Girlguiding from 2013, 33% of 1,300 girls ages seven to twenty one said that they weren’t happy with their looks. This is most concentrated in girls over the age of sixteen, where 52% are unhappy with their body.

Don’t think that guys aren’t under the same pressure, though. In a world dominated by male underwear models, porn and movie stars, there’s immense stigma placed on them to adhere to all these desirable stereotypes of the ‘perfect male body’. I couldn’t find any statistics on this, which says something about how overlooked male body positivity problems are.

There’s an awful lot of negativity out there, even from our own families and friends. From social media to magazines and Hollywood to television adverts. It seems like everyone is out to keep our comfort with our own bodies all the way down. Even on your best day, you might get that weird niggling worry in the back of your head as you spot a strand of maybe-too-greasy hair in the corner of your vision.

Body positivity is something that should really be explored more out of the Tumblr-sphere, because we don’t have the kind voices of the anonymous internet blog posts following us around all the time. It’s far too easy to glance into a window as you walk past and spy out that spot on your nose over how amazing your hair looks today, and have those thoughts stay firmly in the front of your mind for the remainder of the day.

I’ll refer back to ‘Girl Up’ here, because Laura explains this a whole lot better than me. “Pretty much the strongest, most badass and rebellious thing that you can do is love your body in this world that screams at you that you shouldn’t.” Which is the best advice anyone can give in regards to this, honestly. Better than anything I could come up with.

I feel like this entire article has been a ramble about feminist emotions from start to finish, but there’s one last point that I want to highlight before I sign off.

You look beautiful today.

I’ve written this for my college’s feminist zine, and I wanted to post it online before I send it in to get opinions on it. Please let me know if I should add anything else in!

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